About the book
The Door-to-Door Bookstore
There’s a book written for every one of us…
Carl may be 72 years old, but he’s young at heart. Every night he goes door-to-door delivering books by hand to his loyal customers. He knows their every desire and preference, carefully selecting the perfect story for each person.
One evening as he makes his rounds, nine-year-old Schascha appears. Loud and precocious, she insists on accompanying him – and even tries to teach him a thing or two about books.
When Carl’s job at the bookstore is threatened, will the old man and the girl in the yellow raincoat be able to restore Carl’s way of life, and return the joy of reading to his little European town?
The Door-to-Door Bookstore is a heart-warming tale of the value of friendship, the magic of reading, and the power of books to unite us all.
Translated by Melody Shaw
What do I think?
Carl Kollhoff represents a down to earth, real life guardian of books in The Door-to-Door Bookstore. Every evening he takes selected books to regular customers of the City Gate Bookshop where he works. These aren’t always directly chosen by the recipients, but often by Carl who senses what they would enjoy. He sees their doorsteps, and sometimes has pleasurable exchanges with them when he is on his round. Returning home each evening to his cosy apartment, Carl is greeted with walls lined by books, which honestly sounds like a haven!
One evening a young girl steps out into the street and starts to accompany Carl. Whilst he isn’t entirely welcoming, Schascha (not her real name as it’s later revealed) won’t be dissuaded. Over time she not only makes her presence on the rounds known, but also persuades Carl to choose books that his customers need rather than picking from their normal genres. She encourages Carl to form closer friendships with his customers too, and together they create a community that starts with books and explores friendships, relationships and human nature with both its beauty and its weakness.
I thought that the writing of The Door-to-Door Bookstore was beautiful. The language drew me in and the characterisation was both consistent and (mostly) believable. The only element I questioned was Carl accepting the companionship of a young girl without seeming to check that her guardian knew where she was. This didn’t quite tie in with his brilliant nature of understanding people. Otherwise, the story was superb. This life we live is never without bumps, and these are met full on in this novel. From domestic violence to isolation, author Carsten Henn doesn’t shy away from exploring not only the differences that divide people, but also traits of kindness and compassion that draw a community back together again.
I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys delving into what makes people tick.
Purchase link: Amazon UK
Carsten Henn has worked as a radio presenter, wine and restaurant critic, and has published a number of successful novels. He lives in Germany.
N.B. I received an e-copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion. All thoughts are, as always, my own. For more information, please see my disclosure page.